Since the unchecked and unaccountable superintendent of the Proviso Township District 209 high schools will no longer talk to the Forest Park Review or allow his well-paid communications staff to talk to the local paper, we were surprised, amused, and confirmed when Supt. James Henderson used his district-wide email last week to sort of answer the questionnaire we sent to school board candidates in advance of the April 4 election.

Why the superintendent felt it necessary or appropriate to answer questions we directed to his current and potential bosses is beyond us. His answers were the usual drivel.

He did question why multiple candidate questions were about him, though we assume the narcissist in him loved being the focus of attention. The answer is that a critical question in the coming election is whether those elected will finally hold Henderson to account. Or better yet, pay him off and bounce him.

Things we like

Forest Park unveiled its new Community Fridge last Saturday. It was a moment of pride and a declaration of purpose.

Tucked into a nook on the north side of the Community Center on Jackson Boulevard, the fridge includes both a self-serve food pantry and a refrigerated section for perishable items. 

This was genuinely a collaborative effort by the village government, by a welcoming community center, by a raft of volunteers, including the father-son team who built the enclosure from donated materials.

The declaration was an acknowledgment that Forest Park is a welcoming home, both to some residents who don’t have enough food to put on their table and to people who are unhoused but still valued as neighbors.

A good day for Forest Park.

Meanwhile on Madison Street, the evolution from a historic but troubled bar culture continues with news that Scratch Kitchen is moving from its much-loved hole-in-the-wall home of nearly 10 years to a spacious and ambitious location previously occupied by Slainte, an Irish pub. 

The shift flips the location at 7505 Madison St. from an alcohol-focused business to a valued restaurant that serves alcohol. This is the direction in which Forest Park has been intentionally moving in recent years as the number of straight-up bars has diminished, and liquor licenses for taverns have been reduced. 

The determined effort to shutter the problematic Forest Park Tap Room was notable. And the recent news that Doc Ryan’s will be closing this week after a decades-long run is another step toward a quieter Madison Street, focused on welcoming diners not drinkers. Whether Doc Ryan’s will become a cannabis dispensary is still uncertain. That it will no longer be a bar is clear.

Good for Patrick O’Brien for investing in this expansion of his Scratch brand. That the new space includes a second floor suitable for private events and parties is a genuine plus.